EDITORIAL: Dedicated retirees and quest for justice

·2 min read

Aug. 5—The families of eight Metro-area women missing for 16 years or more may not have much hope they'll be found alive, but at least they have the comfort two committed investigators are still trying to solve the disappearances.

Retired Albuquerque Police Department Investigator Ida Lopez and retired APD homicide Sgt. Elizabeth Thomson want the women's families to know they haven't been forgotten. The two women continue to investigate the disappearances for APD on a contract basis.

The investigators don't know for certain, but they believe the missing women — many of whom struggled with drug addiction and trauma and worked as prostitutes — may have met a similar fate as 11 women buried on the West Mesa. These women, who lived a similar lifestyle to the missing, are believed to have been victims of a serial killer.

Lopez compiled the list of eight women, who went missing in 2003-2006 and who she believes could have been killed by the same suspect. "They're our drive to keep going," Lopez says.

Meanwhile, the latest chapter of one of the most gruesome child abuse cases in Albuquerque history ended this week on a hollow note. Jurors found Fabian Gonzales, 37, guilty of child abuse, recklessly caused, resulting in the death of a child under 12, seven counts of tampering with evidence and a single count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence in connection with the death of 10-year-old Victoria Martens. The child was killed in her apartment on her 10th birthday in 2016, her body dismembered and burned.

Gonzales' cousin, Jessica Kelley, and girlfriend, Michelle Martens (Victoria's mother) are already doing time in connection to the slaying. But no one has been charged with killing young Victoria. In her case, as with the eight women missing for more than a decade, until investigators charge someone with murder, justice remains on hold.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.